Guest editorial |

Guest editorial

Julie Eihausen, JJ Ehlers, Nancy Garrison, Philip N. Kaplan, Tania Knauer, Park City Board of Education members

The Park City Board of Education congratulates the class of 2016! This has been a year of accomplishments, challenges and opportunities:

Student Focus – We continue to refine career and college readiness curriculum; the comprehensive district learning plan guides student academic achievement. The professional learning communities (PLC) philosophy finds teachers collaborating to select enrichment and interventions that are individualized. The progress our educators are making is exciting and is reflected in over 90% graduation of our students!

Team Relations – Monthly meetings with employee group leadership have enhanced feedback from our valued faculty and staff. We returned to Interest Based Bargaining, which resulted in more amiable and rapid labor negotiations processes.

Academic Rigor – PCHS delivers the AP model for our advanced learners, offering over 50 sections of AP classes. 2016 college-bound graduates received increased scholarship money from our generous community. Students will attend Ivy League, liberal arts and large universities alike.

Better Food The District took steps to improve the quality of student nutrition by eliminating sugars, artificial flavors and colors, and other harmful ingredients, while increasing freshness and including more scratch-cooked meals.

Sustainability PCSD accelerated energy efficiency investments. This action models conservation & collaboration as we joined with other community efforts to win the Georgetown Energy Prize. This $600k investment has a 2.8-year payback.

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Fiscal Responsibility The 2016-2017 budget includes financial discipline and a focus on shifting money from administrative activities into the classroom, allowing us to reduce class size without raising taxes.

Governance The Policy and Audit Committees were redesigned to utilize subject-matter expertise to critically review and evaluate these key board responsibilities. We created a Board Handbook that outlines operating procedures.

Strategic Planning The Board initiated a process to set an achievable vision. The initial research pointed to improving the way that the District plans and implements changes.

Facilities – Two design teams are studying how grade re-alignment (PreK-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-12) and high school expansion translate to future building needs. PCSD joined the City and Basin Recreation Master Planning process, to articulate the District’s athletic and activity needs.

Special Education To better serve our families and in recognition of the rise of mental illness within our community, the Board authorized a third party to review the Special Education program including the referrals, evaluation, staffing and the 504 process.

Reading A focus upon the needs of struggling English Language Arts students resulted in a new approach to reading. While initially controversial, the plan offers smaller class sizes in K-5, provides school Reading Interventionists and converts part-time classified positions to full-time (with benefits).

Communications We are committed to improving District and Board community communication through new attitudes around listening, surveys, community forums, and 1:1 meetings. A Communications Committee will inform continuing efforts in this critical area.

Once again, best of luck to the class of 2016!